Campaigners against two ‘beautiful’ trees being felled are getting to the root of the issue by protesting.
The two 50-year-old copper beech trees on the new Worthing Audi site on the A259 Roundstone Lane roundabout in Angmering have tree protection orders, so they cannot be cut down.
But Caffyns, the franchise holder for the project, which is due to open in July, has applied to Arun District Council to overturn them.
On Saturday, residents descended on the site to object to their plans. Karen Herriott from Angmering said: “I was gobsmacked, really astonished and very disappointed, because as anyone can see, these are two very beautiful trees.”
Dudley Wensley, deputy leader of Arun District Council and ward councillor for Angmering and Findon, stepped in amid concerns the trees’ protection zone was being ignored by contractors building the dealership’s car park, damaging their roots.
He informed Karl Roberts, head of place at the council, and he sent officers to investigate. He said: “I hope there is a happy ending and these trees are saved, but if action was not taken swiftly, they could have been damaged beyond saving and that would be a great pity.”
A council spokesman said: “Arun District Council is always deeply concerned about allegations regarding damage to protected trees because this would constitute a criminal offence and the council will take appropriate advice before deciding any final course of action.”
A Caffyns spokesman said work was halted while they had an on-site meeting with the council, where ‘it was agreed that we were correctly following the layout as determined by the planning consent granted to us and we were provided with permission to continue the works’. They expected the council ‘not to contest’ their application to fell the beeches and would plant replacement trees on site.
Comments on the application must be made by June 14, with a decision expected on July 5.
Karen Herriott said: “By objecting, we hope that the council will listen to us.
“You have to be a voice for the voiceless – these trees.”